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'High value' Guantanamo detainee denies al-Qaeda connection, alleges torture

[JURIST] Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison detainee Abu Zubaydah [BBC profile] denied accusations of al-Qaeda involvement and made allegations of torture, according to a transcript [PDF] released Monday of his March 27 testimony before a US Combatant Status Review Tribunal [DOD materials]. Zubaydah, a Palestinian, testified that from 1994 until approximately 2000, he worked at guest houses in Pakistan that were affiliated with the Khalden "defensive" jihadist training camp in Afghanistan. He asserted, however, that the camp was not connected to al-Qaeda but that it existed to train fighters to defend Muslim countries from invasion, and that he opposed attacking non-military targets. Zubaydah also said that he made false confessions as a result of torture before his transfer to Guantanamo, and that he was not an associate of Osama bin Laden. He said he was an enemy of the US, but not an enemy combatant [CFR backgrounder], and that he never supported, financially or otherwise, any attack against the US.

Last September Zubaydah was transferred to Guantanamo [JURIST report] as one of 14 "high value" terror suspects [DNI profiles, PDF] potentially eligible for trial by military commission [JURIST news archive]. September 11 mastermind [JURIST report] Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile] was among the detainees. Their CSRT hearings have been closed to the press [JURIST report], but the Department of Defense has released transcripts of 12 of the 13 hearings held to date. Zubaydah has been in custody since 2002 and was held in a secret CIA prison [JURIST report] before his transfer. AP has more.

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